In an interview with crash.net today, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sepang International Circuit Dato’ Razlan Razali has revealed that the future of the Malaysian Grand Prix could be in doubt because of the concerns regarding the future of Formula One.
The 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix will be the last race at Sepang on its current contract, but even though approval for negotiation of a new contract has been granted, an agreement between the FIA and Sepang is still some way off.
In his interview with crash.net today, Razali has revealed that a number of issues need to be considered before he is prepared to commit to another long-term deal. Razali stated the following:-
‘We have been given the green light from the government to begin negotiation with F1 management, so we are doing that right now. We have a big meeting coming up in Barcelona to discuss this.Of course there are a lot of factors involved: Price is one, other ongoing issues are important for us, such as where F1 is heading in the next five years.
‘Then we have the impending issues on the sound, the technicalities, because there are lot of calls for F1 to be a spectacle and to bring back the noise. So we have all these factors to consider if we want to extend beyond 2015.’
As Razali rightly states that there are a number of issues that need to be discussed in order to secure the future of the Grand Prix. I am really glad to see that the organisers are meeting with the FIA in Barcelona in order to see if these concerns can be dealt with as quickly as possible.
As I have stated in previous posts, for a Grand Prix to take place in any country that is currently on the calendar takes a lot of organisation, commitment and investment in order for it to succeed. But if the country manages to pull this off, it is rewarded with many tourists and fans choosing to invest their money by supporting the race, supporting the pinnacle of motorsport and supporting the local economy.
Alongside these issues, the future of Formula One has been debated by many pundits and fans over the past few months. I do understand why many pundits and fans are not happy. As I have stated before, I do not mind the switch to the turbo engines but I do feel that we need a bit more noise from them. But the FIA are currently still trying to resolve and look into this issue regarding the engines.
But we have seen after the Australian Grand Prix that the organisers were not happy with what they experienced and heard during this year’s race and were even looking towards suing the FIA for ‘breach of contract.’ But all track organisers can do currently is just wait and see if any changes will be taking place for the 2015 season and decide if they would like to continue hosting a Grand Prix even if the changes they would like do not get made.
Further on in his interview with crash.net, Razali believes that the noise from the Formula One engines did play a crucial role to the fans connection with the sport. Razali added the following:-
‘People can relate to F1 purely because of the noise. I am not sure too much about the technical side of things – if you go to a fan and say this is a hybrid F1 car, does that interest them? I am not so sure. They are there purely for the sound and the spectacle. As long as there is good racing, and we have seen some good racing this year, then that helps counter the noise side of things.
‘Then again, I believe the European fans are a lot more fanatic and a lot more brutal, so the big test will be in Barcelona and then you will see the fans’ reaction for the whole thing.’
I can see Razali’s perspective. As he rightly says, I do feel that Formula One has lost the engine noise that excites many fans who watch the sport religiously. If the FIA can make some changes to the engines that will allow them to produce more noise when racing at full speed, then I do feel that the fans will once again more connected to the sport that they love.
As what Razali states about the hybrid Formula One car that could be in the sport in the future, it may happen, it might not. I will concur that many fans might not be interested in a hybrid Formula One car being introduced into the sport in the near future, but there will be some fans would be excited about the prospect of this happening. But at the end of the day, Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, has always pushed the boundaries and has always achieved the impossible.
We have already seen with the first four races despite many pundits and fans worrying about the future of the sport some very close racing throughout the field (for example the Bahrain Grand Prix) and it has been very exciting for the fans to watch. I do agree with Razali that whatever rules changes get brought into the sport now or in the near future, as long as we can see the best drivers in the world pushing and racing each other to the maximum, then Formula One will have achieved its aim.
In terms of the future for the Malaysian Grand Prix, I do feel that Razali will be looking very closely at how the season pans out, seeing if the FIA can make some changes in order to address concerns that many pundits and fans have with the sport currently and then basing his decision on this.
But what he has to remember is that if even the issues and concerns that he has with the sport at the moment are not addressed to the level that he would like, there are many countries that would jump at the chance to host a Grand Prix and all the benefits that it brings.
It would be a shame if we lost Malaysia from the calendar as it has provided us with some great races since its debut on the calendar in 1999. But all eyes will be upon them as they try to decide if these issues and concerns that they have with hosting the Grand Prix will be beneficial to them in the near future.
And I am sure that there are many countries in the wings looking to take the place of Malaysia if they do not want to continue hosting the Grand Prix. I really hope that Malaysia continue to host the Grand Prix and that their issues and concerns regarding the future are dealt with as quickly as possible before Formula One loses a track that many drivers and fans enjoy watching.